Crimea, Russia, Western Media & The War on Terror

20 Mar

A couple of days ago I came across these 2 articles

http://www.newsweek.com/american-who-dared-make-putins-case-231388

http://www.thenation.com/article/178344/distorting-russia

& I began wondering about the ‘Crisis in Ukraine’ & the constant ‘pro-freedom, pro-democracy anti-Russian’ rhetoric which has characterised pretty much all of the media coverage (certainly here in Ireland & from the little I’ve seen the same is true of the allegedly impartial BBC).

I am old enough to have had grandparents who fought in WW2 & know as a matter of historical fact that The Russians (with much material aid from the US & UK via the Arctic Convoys) saved Western Europe & the UK from the Nazis. Whether the US saved us from the Russians & threat of a Communist Europe is more debatable but probably has some basis in political/social realities of the early post-war era.

However once WW2 was over Communism was a very real threat to the Western Capitalist lifestyle & was therefore to be resisted by all means possible including outright war (Korea & Vietnam), overthrow of democratically elected governments (Chile & Argentina) economic boycotts (Cuba) & support for dictators & regimes whose treatment of their own populations were actual abuses of human rights (Iran,Greece, Spain, Portugal & South Africa) & support for terrorist insurgencies (El Salvador) coupled with media biases & active economic destablisation  culminating in the Fall of the Wall & the collapse of the Soviet system.

The fall of the Soviet system was, in my opinion, a real positive. However the fallout was destabilising for global security & bad news for believers in Western EUROPEAN believers in Democracy as a political & social system.

The fall of the Russian Bear has led to a resurgence in an Imperial America & the unfettered & unreflexive expansion of their brand of corporate capitalism (backed up by American military & financial might) around the globe. This has led to some extremely nasty events which reflect very badly on ‘Western Values’ & our concept of Democracy as a whole. (It has always been the case that the more powerful empires have played fast & loose with notions of sovereignty, International Laws & use of force. However in this era of ‘instant news’ coverage & powerful propaganda such behaviour should be less tolerable NOT more as seems to be the case)

I fail to see how the EU’s meddling (or in ligua franca ‘stirring the shit’) in Eastern Europe has made the situation better for Ukraininas in the foreseeable future or improved the financial & trading prospects of the EU as a whole as we try to address the current ‘Austerity Crisis’ – mass emigration, levels of youth unemployment in the high 20s%, aging population & crumbling infrastructure. Professor Cohen (see above articles) claims that ‘The West’ agreed that Berlin was as far as they would go. So it would appear that we have yet again acted in bad faith diplomatically.

Furthermore Russia is a devoutly CHRISTIAN country (indeed one could argue that their strand of Christianity predates ours) & has legitimate security concerns along its borders which it demonstrated in Georgia & in Chechnya. Indeed Russia has much the same security concerns regarding Muslim extremism as do we in the West & have facilitated the US/Nato in their ‘adventures’ in ‘Democracy & Freedom’ in Afghanistan, Iraq & not least Syria. So why are we provoking instability on their borders & how did we expect them to react?

On the subject of Muslim extremism as far as I am aware it is either Shia  or Sunni. If the terrorists are Shia then our media ALWAYS mentions Iran (or Hezbollah) in its reporting. In the case of Sunni terrorism they are usually termed Jihadists & Al Qaeda are the terms used. However Al Qaeda was set up, financed & headed by a Saudi prince (one Osama Bin Laden) & was a completely Gulf funded organisation. Indeed Saudi Arabia finances & arms most Sunni terrorist, sorry Jihadist, groups. Yet our media NEVER makes or investigates such links.

The War on Terror is therefore deeply flawed & in fact deliberately uni-directional.

So my question for our independent, unbiased, truth-to-power media is this Saudi Arabia & its Gulf allies are un/anti-democratic, have worse views on women’s & Gay rights than Russia, actively support terrorism across the globe so why are you demonising Russia & Putin rather than Saudi & the House of Saud?

Teaching Religion in Primary School

27 Jan

At the moment there is an ongoing discussion about the teaching of religion in Irish State schools especially those “of a religious ethos”  i.e. those run by, or in buildings owned by, religious institutions.
So my questions are these:-

1) Why do we “teach religion” in school? Surely the churches & the homes of believers are the places where religious instruction should take place? Unless of course the religious orders do not believe that they are effective in reaching their flock in a church setting & also have little faith in their members’ ability to raise their own children in the faith. In which case why should taxpayer subsidized educational time & space be expected, nay mandated, to rectify their failings?

2) In an era of questioning teaching standards, performance related league tables & providing an education which fits the students for the world in which they live how then are we to judge the effectiveness & value for money of the religious education being provided by our taxes? All the major faiths claim to provide moral & ethical frameworks by which the individual can not only live their own life but also create a more moral & ethical society. So using this criteria how effective have Irish schools been in this regard?

On the personal level? The evidence is not good. During the Celtic Tiger religiously educated Irish adults, across the board spent with no regard for the future, when offered more money than they could possibly repay they just took the cash & now they cast about for others to blame, complain about having to honour their agreements & seek not to repay what they owe. In other words they were greedy, selfish & lacking in the “moral fibre” to face their failings & the courage to accept their punishment. All of this behaviour is contrary to the teachings of the Christ they have been alledgedy educated to follow. So the teaching of religion has failed in this area of education.
On the societal level one only has to look at the duplicitous behaviour of top politicians, church leaders, top business people & the boards of charitable organisations to see that the education system has most certainly failed to instill a Christian moral & ethical framework both in the persons & the institutions in which they serve. The failure is all the more glaring when one considers that many of the “leaders” of our society have come through the leading educational institutions & therefore had the best teachers. So here again “teaching religion” has failed the test.

The only area where religion as it is taught actually passes the test is in familiarizing the children with the rituals of the particular religion i.e. forming a habit of rote observance devoid of context or application to the adult’s daily life.

So I ask again why do we “teach religion” in primary schools? What exactly are we teaching & to what end?

Who sets media agendas? Aka who’s serving who?

23 Apr

in the week which saw the jury verdict in the inquest into the death of Savita Halapanavar on which facet of this tragic case has the Irish media chosen to focus? Yes you’ve guessed it …ABORTION & Irish legislation in this regard.

However the question of whether or not Savita could access an abortion was NOT what actually caused her death. What caused her death were several shortcomings in the medical care she received (or more accurately did not receive).

What it boils down to is that the jury found there were manifest flaws both in the behaviour & clinical practice of several staff members on duty in Galway Hospital over the days it took for Savita to die. In addition the jury found several management deficiencies again both in personal oversight but also in terms of systemic design flaws.

Given that Galway Hospital is one of the HSE’s much vaunted “centres of excellence” which themselves are a cornerstone of successive Irish government’s Health Strategies. The very public & fatal failure of one of these centres should in my opinion be cause for real, public & detailed examination of the highlighted ‘shortcomings’ by all media outlets because the oversight & ownership of the performance & competence of our health service is not only in the public interest but is surely OF INTEREST OF THE PUBLIC.

But what has our ‘acting in the public interest’ media chosen to highlight & pursue? The abortion issue whilst ignoring the public’s right to know about safety in our health service centres of excellence.

Why would the media pursue this strategy? Why would our media seek to raise the one facet of the tragedy which would generate public unrest & political turmoil? Surely not for purely mercenary sales or viewership figures?

15 Jan

Vox Political

hmv“If you’re a student, and you have to pay a fee to go to university… You end up with a debt of 12,500 quid, you marry another student – £12,500, well, 25,000 quid; you then try to get a house because you want to start a family – that’s 40,000 – you start life with a debt of £60,000! I tell you, it would be great, convenient, to a future employer because someone with a debt of 60,000 quid is not going to cause any trouble; otherwise they might lose their job and so on.” Tony Benn, speaking circa 2002.

One has to admire Tony Benn for his powers of prophecy!

Clearly, he was able to look nearly a decade into the future to foretell the coming of a government for whom the imposition of a £9,000-per-year tax on learning – by universities themselves, not the government itself – was…

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The drunken Irish teenager controversy

8 Jan

I find it telling that this story has been taken over by the ‘sanitize the internet’ wing of the political class & their media mates.

Some points which are being ignored:
1) the girl is 16! So are those who supplied her with enough alcohol to become very drunk being castigated? Pursued by the Gardai (procuring alcohol for a MINOR is A criminal OFFENCE)? I see no evidence of this.. Yet we are frequently lectured on the scourge of alcohol addiction & drink’s role in anti-social behaviour. Is this the main news story, or opinion piece? NOPE.

2) She launched into a pronounced & unprovoked attack on innocent people who just happened to have the misfortune to be in the fast-food joint she entered. This is surely BY DEFINITION drink-fueled anti-social behaviour. As part of this public order offence she launches a physical assault on the person filming the event, knocking their property to the ground. This too is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE. Is this the main media concern in this instance? Why not? Public behaviour of this sort is usually fair game for the mainstream media, usually in tut tut terms & demands that the Gardai take action because such drunken scenes provide a VERY BAD IMAGE of Dublin to the tourists.

3)Is she being prosecuted? Had the roles been reversed and the young woman been the victim of a drunken assault by someone from Ballymun or Tallaght say would the media reaction be the same? Or would the film clip be seen as potential evidence for a possible criminal prosecution?

4) If she had been the daughter of a lesser mortal again say from Ballymun or Tallaght would the video have been removed as quickly? I think not …is this very obvious inequity the main media concern? Nope.

5) The language she used to describe her fellow citizens was class ridden invective worthy of a drunken member of the British ruling elites. Yet, allegedly, we live in a democratic Republic where there is NO CLASS bias. Yet the behaviour of this young woman proves the opposite, at least in her eyes. Is this of concern to our mainstream media & political class? Nope.

What does concern them? The issue of the language used online. Language that one would have to search for & therefore not be subjected to if one didn’t wish to see it. Unlike the law-abiding clientele of the fast food restaurant who were the targets of her invective which they neither sought nor provoked.

Media agenda? Yep sanitize the internet & protect their golden goose…

I’m a parent of grown children & if I had found that my lads had used that kind of invective in such an unprovoked manner they’d be grounded for it, & face some very hard questions about their usage of alcohol.

The con trick of Irish austerity & our corporate tax regimes.

3 Jan

yeah we’re all in it together alright …http://www.irishtimes.com/letters/index.html#1224328377985

every time I see ‘new jobs’ being announced by a foreign multinational here I wonder just what taxpayer subsidies, write-offs and waivers they have been given …many multinationals get to pay NO tax for the first several years here PLUS having us, the taxpayer, build the factory & the estate it is in. Apparently R&D is the latest tax avoidance wheeze …if the activities can be labelled R&D (and I’m unsure as to how rigorous any checks on the accuracy of the designation are) then the company gets very generous write-offs against tax liabilities. I know of one multinational big pharma company which informed its workforce that they would be ‘invited’ to resign their posts & reapply for ‘new’ posts and contracts in order that the ‘new’ jobs could be classified as being R&D. Needless to say acceptance of the ‘invitations’ was compulsory and the ‘new’contracts were ‘less advantageous’ than the old ones. Faced with either compulsory redundancy most employees accepted the ‘new’ posts i.e. doing their old jobs but at worse rates & having lost valuable time of service. Yet the company was then able to avail of tax benefits. …then we get our politicians spouting populist anti-EU stuff like this

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/taxpayers-cant-bear-weight-of-eu-bank-debt-gilmore-3341610.html

whilst doing nothing to address this cash cow for the already mega-wealthy corporate entities.

Queen’s Christmas betrayal of Jubilee Workfare forced-labourers

29 Dec

Vox Political

Whoever wrote the Queen’s Christmas message this year should be hung as a traitor for making her appear to be another uncaring exploiter – like her current government.

Confused? Allow me to explain. The message might seem to be full of praise for the UK’s efforts to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee year – and it was – but it also contained this passage, referring to the Olympics and the Jubilee event on the Thames:

“The success of these great festivals depended to an enormous degree upon the dedication and effort of an army of volunteers. Those public-spirited people came forward in the great tradition of all those who devote themselves to keeping others safe, supported and comforted.”

In the case of the Olympics, her words might well ring true – people did come forward freely to take part in that great sporting event.

However, the regatta is a very different…

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